It was rush hour at the grocery store. The Express checkout line was long, but it was moving quickly. The young woman ahead of us—she appeared to be in her late teens—was impatient. She was pacing, in place, and groaning quietly. She turned around, looked at me, and said frantically, “I forgot my phone in the car. What time is it?”
She wasn’t wearing a watch. I’ve noticed that many young people no longer wear a watch. They rely on their cell phones to find out what time it is. Not a bad idea, actually.
I held out my left wrist so that she could see my watch. It’s not a fancy watch. It’s a simple, easy-to-read, everyday watch that doesn’t require batteries. It operates on light. You read that right. No batteries. Nothing complicated. Just a plain, ordinary watch. Easy to read at a quick glance.
Her eyes widened. “I can’t read that,” she said in dismay. “I have to see the numbers.”
I’m still gobsmacked. If you don’t know how to read an analog face on a clock, how did you learn fractions? How did you learn to add fractions? (“How much is a half hour plus a quarter of an hour?”) Never mind. I told her the time, without comment.
I wish we would have had time for conversation. Maybe a few questions about fractions. Then again…maybe I really don’t want to know.